For the first time in history, scientists have detected the first interstellar object ever observed. In October , an elongated interstellar object named "Oumuamua" — the first to enter the solar system — was detected by a survey telescope in Hawaii. A new study published this week in the Astronomical Journal , coauthored by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, uncovered new information that suggested there was a limit to how big Oumuamua actually is, and gave astronomers a better indication of its size. Scientists have been looking for signs of extraterrestrial life for decades.
So does the appearance of Oumuamua mean the elusive "E. T" has finally been detected? Perhaps: Experts say it is exceedingly unlikely, but the possibility can't be ruled out just yet.
Reasons to Believe
But we have to have an open mind," Michael Wall, a writer at Space. Scientists believe Oumuamua is shaped like a cigar, approximately feet long and 40 feet wide. However, they are only able to guess based on its changing brightness as it spins. But scientists' biggest unanswered question is the object's thickness. As far as the scientific community is aware, there is no naturally occurring object that is as big as Oumuamua that appears so thin at the same time, increasing the likelihood that it was created by another life form.
Given the speed the object is moving, experts believe that it may be a light sail — an object that is thin enough to be pushed by the sun or another star, almost like a plastic bag in the wind, according to Matija Cuk, a research scientist at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence SETI Institute.
According to Wall, scientists originally hypothesized that Oumuamua was a comet or an asteroid. However, both theories were ruled out: Unlike comets studied here on earth, this object does not have a tail, nor jets of gas that a comet would normally emit. If Oumuamua is not a comet or an asteroid, chances of it being a light sail increase.
According to SETI's Cuk, it is possible that outside our solar system, composition of space objects are different. That suggests the object could be naturally occurring, despite the fact that nothing like it has ever been seen anywhere near earth before.
Shostak said there are likely many objects similar to Oumuamua in the depths of space. This time, the object "hit the bullseye" by reaching the earth's solar system. These objects have also likely reached our solar system in the past and gone unnoticed. Scientists are building another telescope similar to the one in Hawaii that detected Oumuamua. Once it is completed in Chile, it will be used to search for similar objects. This is just the first one we've found," Shostak said.
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He acknowledged the alien hypothesis was plausible, adding that Oumuamua acted more like a rock than a spaceship. Scientists also would have been able to detect any sort of signal the object had if it were as advanced as a cell phone, Shostak said. That does not prove anything, but decreases the likelihood that it was deliberately sent. Oumuamua is now drifting further away from our solar system.
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As the leader of the free world, the president of the United States is often the first person extraterrestrials will seek out when they want to make contact with Earth, but on the rare occasions when this happens, those meetings are almost never of consequence. Here are four encounters throughout history between a sitting U.
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In the middle of the night of April 6, , President Woodrow Wilson woke up in bed to find himself surrounded by glowing lights. His window opened and tall, gray creatures from the Andromeda Galaxy entered his room. Then they boarded their spacecraft and returned to the depths of space. On the evening of July 19, , President Franklin D. A glowing hatch opened on the ship and a luminescent figure radiating a silver light emerged. President Dwight Eisenhower was called to a military base in Roswell, NM, where army personnel had captured a downed alien spacecraft.
It was, on the whole, a pointless encounter. Fifty-three years ago, an alien spacecraft from the Alpha Centauri star system landed on the west lawn of the White House while President Lyndon Johnson was strolling through the Rose Garden.